Hard Rock supporters, opponents ramp up campaigning efforts - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Hard Rock supporters, opponents ramp up campaigning efforts

Posted: Updated:
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Two different groups held two very different rallies in West Springfield Friday afternoon.

"It's a full-fledged campaign," said President of Hard Rock New England, Tim Maland.  

"We're expecting it not to pass," said President of No Casino West Springfield, Inc. Nathan Bech.

A rally held on the West Side town green brought casino opponents together Friday carrying signs, urging residents to strike it down.

"There's got to be something that's going to protect the concerns of the people who are opposed to it," said Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the Council of Churches of Western Mass.

A few hours later, Hard Rock supporters gathered at the Big E fairgrounds for their final push before the big vote on Sept. 10, touting the benefits they could bring.

"The tax payments, the construction of roads, the improvement to Memorial Avenue, the $18 million a year in fixed payments, etc.," Maland said.

Both sides of the debate are stepping up efforts with only four days to go until West Side voters make a decision, mailing out fliers like these and speaking one-on-one with residents.

"We've knocked on doors, we've done our own polling, a majority of the residents have said they're opposed to it," Paul said.

Those at Hard Rock's rally support the idea.

"I consider myself a cheerleader for the town," said life-long resident Linda Williams.

Williams says she's been to every Hard Rock meeting.

"The more I learn, the more I realize that this really is a nice match."

Nathan Bech has also lived here his whole life and doesn't see it that way.

"This casino is going to bring a lot more traffic, and with that a lot of drunk drivers, a lot more accidents, a lot more problems and it's going to bring crime."

Voters will decide on Tuesday whether to allow those plans to move forward.

If they vote yes, Hard Rock's final application is due to the Gaming Commission Dec. 31.

If they vote no, Hard Rock's chances are over in Western Mass.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.